Kigali City, Rwanda
Kigali, with a population of more than 1 million, is the capital and largest city of Rwanda. It is situated near the geographic centre of the nation.
The city is built in hilly country, sprawling across about four ridges and the valleys in between. The city centre is located on one of these ridges, with the main government area on another.The bigger houses and office buildings tend to be on the tops of the ridges, while the poorer people live in the valleys. The city is ringed most of the way round by higher hills, with some suburban sprawl rising up these. The highest of these is Mt. Kigali, with an elevation of 1,850 metres or 6,070 feet above sea level.
What to see in Kigali
Kigali houses several memorials, museums, and centers dedicated to the Rwandan Genocide, including the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre. Other museums include the Kandt House Museum of Natural History.
Urugwiro is the official residence of the President of Rwanda. It constitutes an entire village within the Kacyiru district of Kigali.
The city has international class hotels, some played a role in history:
The Mille Collines in the Kiyovu area. This hotel became a refugee centre during the genocide, as famously depicted in the film Hotel Rwanda. It is also the setting for the famous novel Un dimanche à la piscine à Kigali, by Quebecer Gil Courtemanche, and its movie adaptation Un dimanche à Kigali.
The Kigali Serena Hotel, formerly known as the InterContinental Kigali. Formerly a Belgian-owned hotel known as Hotel Diplomates, the hotel was briefly portrayed in the second half of Hotel Rwanda. It was later bought by the InterContinental Hotels group and remodeled in 2003.
Kigali Convention Centre (KCC), an ultra-modern facility located in Kimuhurura, Gasabo District
Kigali Genocide Memorial Center
The Kigali Genocide Memorial is the final resting place for more than 250,000 victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. It honours the memory of the more than one million Rwandans killed in 1994 through education and peace-building.
In the span of 100 days, an estimated one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were systematically butchered by the Interahamwe and army. This memorial honours the estimated 250,000 people buried here in mass graves and tries to explain how it was that the world watched as the genocide unfolded.
This is an intensely powerful and moving memorial for which you should dedicate at least half a day.
The informative audio tour (US$15) includes background on the divisive colonial experience in Rwanda and as the visit progresses, the exhibits become steadily more powerful, as you are confronted with the crimes that took place here and moving video testimony from survivors. If you have remained dispassionate until this point, you’ll find that it will all catch up with you at the section that remembers the children who fell victim to the killers’ machetes. Life-sized photos are accompanied by intimate details about their favourite toys, their last words and the manner in which they were killed.
The memorial concludes with sections on the search for justice through the international tribunal in Arusha as well as the local gacaca courts (traditional tribunals headed by village elders).
Upstairs is a moving section dedicated to informing visitors about other genocides that have taken place around the world and helps set Rwanda’s nightmare in a historical context.
After you’ve absorbed the museum displays take a rose (by donation) to leave on one of the vast concrete slabs outside that cover the mass graves. There’s also a wall of names, a rose garden and a pleasant cafe serving good coffee, lunch buffets (RFr3000), snacks and juices that is an ideal place to reflect and gather yourself before facing the outside world again.
Kigali Museum of Natural History
The Natural History Museum in Kigali is Rwanda’s first and only museum dedicated to the natural sciences. It’s not as impressive as your average natural history museum, but visitors can still learn a lot about the country’s flora and fauna, geology and biological history.
Formerly known as the Kandt Residence, it was once the home of German physician and explorer Dr. Richard Kandt. It was Dr. Kandt who founded Kigali around 1908 to be a center of administration for German East Africa. The Institute of National Museums of Rwanda converted the historic residence into a museum in 2008 in order to increase Rwandans’ exposure to the natural sciences as well as to educate visitors from around the world about Rwanda’s biological and geological diversity.
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Best Time to Visit
Visiting Rwanda for gorilla tracking can be done all year round. The best time to travel to Rwanda is during the drier seasons, periods between December to early March and June to September. December to March is a long dry season for Rwanda, with temperatures going up to 29 degrees Celsius for some days while the months of March – Mid May, July to September, on the other hand, are regarded as the rainy in the country
|Best time to go:||December to February and June to July (Dry seasons)|
|High Season:||June to September (More people visit Rwanda since it is the peak time for gorilla tracking)|
|Low Season:||March, April, May, October and November (A number of camps and lodges close)|
|Best Weather:||Mid-December to February (Less rainfall)|
|Worst Weather:||Mid-March to May and mid-August to November (High rainfall, roads can become impassable)|
Tailored Rwanda Safaris That Include Kigali City
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Other Destinations in Rwanda
Rwanda’s renowned Volcanoes National Park is home to mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. The park encompasses 4,507m-tall Mt. Karisimbi and 4 other forested volcanoes. In the southwest is Nyungwe National Park, with ancient montane rainforest that’s a habitat for chimpanzees and other primates.
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